Michael Harris - Orchestrate
Imminent Music Force/Lion Music
Michael Harris is one of the most gifted musicians out there. Although he started his musical journey in the 80's as a hard-rock guitarist, his music expanded to different genres, from classical music to jazz fusion and progressive metal. What makes Harris unique is the fact that all over the years he maintained and evolved his ability to compose and perform beautiful and inspired music with the same creativity and passion he had when he started. Whatever this man plays, all those musical qualities that differentiate him from his shredding ex-colleagues are always present, challenging the listener with unexpected beautiful melodies and complex rhythmic patterns not for the sake of showing off but always in a very harmonic and natural way. I can't think of any other shredder guitarist whose musical knowledge and style has always served the whole band instead of feeding his ego, in order to be at the top of all the others. And that’s because, it is obvious that he respects and loves music above all the other stuff.
“Orchestrate” (released in 2006) is an instrumental album, strongly influenced by the neoclassical genre, which was established by great guitarists, such as Uli Jon Roth, Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhoads, Steve Morse, and others. But as Michael crosses these neoclassical fields he reveals another view of how things should be done. Harris reminds us that the key to successfully combine classical music with metal is - besides offering a technically perfect performance - to emphasize in composition and orchestration. That is something very demanding and difficult for any musician to accomplish, but not for Michael himself as it seems.
This album is almost a one man effort: Besides composing all the stuff, Harris performed all the guitar, bass and keyboard - guitar synth parts and did the mixing and the production as well! The amazing real drums - performed by Matt Thompson - also contributed to the final result a lot. Listening to this “rich” record is an unbelievable experience full of surprises and dynamics. All instruments are in a perfect balance, showing all of us what Harris meant by calling the album “Orchestrate”. As Michael said, the songs were recorded digitally using a Pro Tools room at Nomad studios. So, there is no excuse for anyone anymore… modern technology tools can make miracles at the right hands. In my opinion, if someone ever attempts to do something like that on his own (I mean without a real orchestra), he has to study this amazing work very carefully.
I regard this album as the most fluent path that leads to the strange world of Michael Harris. You can think of this record as a master’s effort to redirect the neoclassical genre towards the invariant properties that somebody can find only in original and inspired music in general. But don’t fool yourself: this point of view is something that a careful listener would acquire in every piece of work of this genius musician.